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7 ideas for cross-promotion with other small businesses

With shrinking budgets for small businesses, cross-promotion is an age old method professionals use to spread word about their company. There are 7 methods that can expand your reach ranging from print to web cross-promotion, many at no cost at all.

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Spreading word about your business

Getting the word out about your small business takes a lot of work. You start out by enlisting the help of close friends, family members, and current and previous business associates. But soon that isn’t enough to get you to your end goal—a solid professional reputation and an increased profit. While there are thousands of ways to advertise your business, there are often monetary constraints for small business pros. Even with these constraints and limitations, small businesses can effectively market their brands through cross-promotion with other, complementary small businesses.

Print collateral

Display print collateral – One of the simplest ways to cross-promote is by displaying or distributing print collateral—brochures, calendars, business cards, and flyers—in a waiting room, next to the cash register, or mailed with statements, invoices, or business correspondence. When you’ve found the right business—or several businesses—to pair with, trade printed material. This will ensure that your business is made visible to potential customers, customers that would ultimately benefit from your products or services. If you’re looking for a low-friction way of cross-promoting your brand, this is it.

Events

Co-sponsor an event – This will allow you to cut your event costs in half, and it ensures you get the other company’s audience and customers in attendance, which will only benefit your company’s marketing efforts and outreach. Depending on the nature of your business, you can choose to hold a local, national, or even online event geared toward your target audience. Whichever you choose, make sure all companies with which you’re cross-promoting have equal visibility. This will strengthen your professional relationships now so they can still be of use to you in the future.

Incentives

Start a referral program – Offer discounts or rewards for those customers who refer business to your partner’s store and vice versa. This is a fantastic way to create a network of consumers. Remember, again, this only works if you cross-promote a complementary business rather than a competing one. The latter is rarely a good idea. A referral program will encourage your customers to spread the word about your business and your cross-promotion partner’s business. Everyone benefits.

Mailers

Swap mailing lists – While this effort obviously gives you even more potential customers, the ethics of such an act continues to be debated. After all, haven’t we all been annoyed when we’ve discovered a company has sold or traded our information? Instead of swapping all the information on your mailing lists, you can provide your current customers and clients the option of being contacted by a partner or affiliate. Alternatively, featuring a peripheral business to yours on mailers to your clients while being featured on mailers to their clients is a common method for this type of swap. This will keep your professional reputation unsoiled and give you the opportunity to lengthen your own mailing list.

Web efforts

Trade online content – While this type of cross-promotion requires a lot of valuable time in creating the content, it’s one of the most beneficial ways to market your brand on a small budget—or even if you have a large budget, for that matter. Write a guest blog post, general website content, or informative, on-topic articles. This online content can help establish your reputation as being knowledgeable in your field or industry. If you can write content that is informative and valuable, you’ll have a stream of users checking out your site, too. The challenge here is in finding like partners that would mutually benefit.

Seminars

Offer a workshop or educational class – You and your cross-promotion partner can hold an educational workshop or class that’s related to your industry. Each of you—or a representative of your business—should speak or teach a class, but also include other guest speakers or teachers. The more valuable information you provide to the attendees, the more in-demand your workshop or class will be. Having as many influential “experts” involved will only increase the hype of your educational event.

Co-office

Share valuable office space – Just as tax accountants temporarily take up residence in major grocery stores during tax season, consider sharing valuable office space with your partner, and vice versa. It can be a small office, booth, or even right outside the front door. Hand out brochures, business cards, and be available to answer questions or to pass out free samples. This method can be more effective than just having your partner display your print collateral, because your potential customers can put a face to a brand, which makes your business more relatable and personable. It doesn’t matter if you set up one of your employees there permanently or you only use some space a few times a month, this is a great way to network with your target audience.

Cross-promotion is an easy way to market your business directly to the right consumers and while sticking to your marketing budget. Partnering with a complementary business expands your professional outreach, betters your reputation in your industry, and puts you in contact with the right people at the right time. Consider your cross-promotion options carefully and be selective about potential partners, as the wrong partner can have as much of an impact on your business as the right one.

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Steve Martin

    March 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    All great, inexpensive ideas for small business owners! Great article!

  2. Maria Eves

    April 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    7 ideas for cross-promotion with other small businesses hey thanks for that Charlene…really truly a great insight to the many ways..

  3. Pingback: 3 Inexpensive Marketing Ideas to Reach A Large Local Audience

  4. Pingback: Offices to let near Brinnington - Pear Mill

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Business Marketing

The advertising overload strategy needs to stop, here’s why

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report that claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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Business Marketing

SEO: The Unsung Hero of Digital Marketing Success

(MARKETING) Despite sexier emerging trends, the reality is that you can’t build out a successful online presence and marketing strategy without SEO.

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SEO Analytics

If you want to win with digital marketing, you need to stop focusing all of your energy on TikTok and hot trends and instead emphasize some of the more foundational elements that make up successful marketing strategies. This includes search engine optimization (SEO).

Why SEO Matters in 2022 and Beyond

It’s easy to forget about SEO. It’s one of those staples of digital marketing and online business growth that’s been around for so long that we tend to lump it into the “has-been” bucket. But despite sexier emerging trends, the reality is that you can’t build out a successful online presence and marketing strategy without at least paying some attention to SEO.

Here are some specific reasons why it matters:

  • Organic search. Even in a world of paid traffic, organic search reigns supreme. It’s the traffic source that continues to give you clicks regardless of whether you’re footing the bill or not. It’s a free source of qualified traffic that’s interested in what you have to offer before they even click.
  • If a user continues to see your website and brand name pop up on Google, they’re going to assign a certain amount of authority and credibility to you. This can be leveraged to drive conversions.
  • Good UX. You can’t have good SEO without paying attention to intelligent UX and high-quality content. If you follow today’s SEO best practices, you’ll position your brand far ahead of your competitors.

We could list dozens of other reasons why SEO matters, but it basically comes down to these three things. If you can drive traffic, establish authority, and implement a compelling user experience that engages the right people at the right time with the right content, everything else is going to fall into place.

SEO

Tips for Mastering SEO

Understanding the importance of SEO is one thing. Now, how do you go about implementing a successful SEO strategy that propels your larger digital marketing efforts? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Establish These 3 Pillars

It’s easy to get sidetracked with your SEO efforts. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of different tactics and techniques you can implement. But if you don’t start with the basics, everything else will be a waste of your time, energy, and effort.

Chain Reaction, an SEO company in Dubai, is a firm believer in what they call the three SEO pillars:

  • Technical. This is the boring part of SEO, but it has to get done. This includes tasks like fixing technical errors, using the proper URL structure, setting up the right website hierarchy, managing page speed, etc.
  • Content. While more exciting and creative than technical SEO, content is time-consuming and expensive (if outsourced). Having said that, it’s the fuel to any good SEO strategy. Without it, you aren’t going anywhere.
  • Authority. You need to tap into the authority of other websites to set your brand apart. The more you align with other trustworthy sites, the faster you’ll grow.

If you can win in each of these areas, everything else has a way of falling into place.

  1. Go Local

Did you know that 46 percent of all Google searches have local intent? Or that 88 percent of people who perform a local search visit or call the company within 24 hours?

Google is no longer reserved for high-level research or answering simple questions. People go to Google when they want to find a specific product or service in their area. The companies that prioritize local SEO are the ones that pop up in the search results. Make sure that’s you!

  1. Invest in Backlinks

Few things move the SEO “needle” quite like backlinks. When acquired from highly authoritative and relevant sites in your niche, they can amplify your results and prove your credibility. While you can wait to “earn” backlinks, it’s generally recommended that you take a more aggressive approach through strategies like guest blogging. 

  1. Analyze and Iterate

There’s no perfect SEO strategy. The rules are constantly changing and, as a result, so are the best practices. By constantly analyzing the data and studying analytics, you can identify when and where to optimize. An iterative approach like this is the key to being successful.

Putting it All Together

SEO doesn’t get nearly the same buzz as the latest social media trends or web design tactics. However, it’s arguably more important. Make 2022 the year that you invest in SEO for your business. It’s a decision that you won’t regret!

SEO is the unsung hero of digital marketing

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Business Marketing

Pay employees for their time, not only their work

(MARKETING) Yes, you still must pay employees for their time even if they aren’t able to complete their work due to restrictions. Time = Money.

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pay employees for their time

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a lot of insightful questions about things like our healthcare system, worldwide containment procedures, and about a billion other things that all deserve well-thought answers.

Unfortunately, it has also led to some of the dumbest questions of all time.

One such question comes courtesy of Comstock Mag, with the inquiry asking whether or not employees who show up on time can be deducted an hour’s pay if the manager shows up an hour later.

From a legal standpoint, Comstock Mag points out that employees participating in such activities are “engaged to wait”, meaning that – while they aren’t necessarily “working” – they are still on the clock and waiting for work to appear; in this case, the aforementioned “work” comes in the form of the manager or supervisor showing up.

In short: if the reason your employees aren’t working is that the precursor to completing the work for which you pay them is inaccessible, you still have to pay them for their time.

Morally, of course, the answer is much simpler: pay your employees for their time, especially if the reason they are unable to complete work is because you (or a subordinate) didn’t make it to work at the right time.

Certainly, you might be able to justify sending all of your employees home early if you run into something like a technology snag or a hiccup in the processes which make it possible for them to do their jobs – that would mean your employees were no longer engaged to wait, thus removing your legal obligation to continue paying them.

Then again, the moral question of whether or not cutting your employees’ hours comes into play here. It’s understandable that funds would be tight for the time being, but docking employees an hour of their work here or there due to problems that no one can control may cause them to resent you down the line when you need their support in return.

The real problem with this question is that, despite most people knowing that the answer should always be “pay them”, the sheer number of people working from home in the wake of worldwide closures and social distancing could muddy the water in terms of what constitutes the difference between being engaged to wait and simply burning time.

For example, an employee who is waiting for a meeting to start still fits the bill of “engaged to wait” even if the meeting software takes an extra half hour to kick in (or, worse yet, the meeting never happens), and docking them pay for timecard issues or other extenuating factors that keep them from their work is similarly disingenuous – and illegal.

There are a lot of unknowns these days, but basic human decency should never be up for debate – especially now.

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